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Dockworkers’ 14-day ultimatum on salary arrears yet to receive FG’s attention

Barely one week after the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to compel the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to pay all outstanding bill on stevedoring owed dockworkers, the Ministry of Transportation or any maritime agency is yet to make any move for settlement.
A statement signed by the union’s President and Secretary General, Prince Adewale Adeyanju and Felix Akingboye respectively, read in part, “We want to use this medium to intimate you and the Federal Government of the non-payment of the stevedoring wages to dockworkers by the International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria. We are aware that on June 1, 2018, the Nigerian Ports Authority appointed stevedoring contractors to provide stevedoring services at various offshore jetties and onshore locations to the International Oil Companies and other operators.
“It will be necessary to inform you that NPA had held several meetings with these operators to grant access to the government-appointed stevedoring contractors, process their invoices and effect payment, unfortunately, the operators have refused to comply with the NPA’s directive after one year that the stevedoring contractors were appointed.
“We commend the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority for the effort NPA made to compel the IOCs to engage the services of appointed stevedoring and registered dockworkers in their stevedoring operations.”
Recall that during a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the NPA in February last year to sensitise the IOCs, jetty owners and terminal owners, the NPA management made it clear that in line with section 27 of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007, only government-appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers were empowered by law to solely handle discharge and loading operations at the port, jetties and oil platforms.
Continuing, MWUN averred that “The position of the operators on NPA’s directive is worrisome and very surprising because the same operators had processed and paid the former stevedoring contractors since 2010 through a foremost terminal operator. So, why are they refusing to cooperate with the newly-appointed stevedoring contractors since the modus operandi remains the same?”
Against the background of the foregoing, the union warned that “We can no longer continue to watch our members die prematurely because of the defiant attitude of the IOCs”.
“Consequently, we are constrained to give the Federal Ministry of Transportation that superintends the appointment of stevedores two- weeks (14 days) to prevail on the management of the International Oil Companies to pay all outstanding bills to our members, failure of which we will be compelled to withdraw our services and shut down operations in all the nation’s Sea Ports,” MWUN cautioned.